If you’ve read this blog, you know it is about parenting and well…so many other things. It’s also about evolving as a person and about growth. I always say that I am a work in progress, so for me Lent is about becoming a better person.
Yesterday I got a text from a close friend asking my thoughts on how to explain Lent to an eight-year-old kid. My response was, “Hmmmm. Give me a second.”
The second turned into hours and finally I responded to her today—some might call me a slacker, but I really needed to reflect on my answer. Ultimately I wanted to figure out how to boil, what might be a complex topic, down to something that could be related to and understood.
I even meditated on it—which if you’ve read my previous posts is a REAL challenge for me!
I thought about Mardi Gras and the mass consumption before Lent and the fact that it felt as if we needed a party to get ready for a real downer of the next 40 days.
And it thought… what a shame.
You see, I had a bit of an “aha” moment.
So much of my life is spent running from thing to thing and place to place. I’m blessed in so many ways and realize how it’s easy to lose sight of that. But this period of 40 days is a time for me to step out of that world for a moment and reconnect.
– Reconnect with God and the higher power that I believe exists
– Honor my blessings by expressing gratitude through giving something up
– Practice generosity by giving to others- whether it be something material, a silent prayer or just a smile
I consider this time of reflection is a gift, not a burden. I see Lent as a grounding time that lets me figure out how I can be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend… basically how I can be a better person.
For those interested, here is what I sent her on my thoughts for her eight-year-old son. I wrote it in a way that if he wanted to read it himself he could:
Lent is a time of 40 days leading up to Easter. When Jesus was alive, he spent 40 days fasting (giving up food) in the desert before taking up his ministry for God. Jesus needed to think about his life, his blessings and how he could be a minister of God to other people. He used those 40 days to become closer to God.
Every day God gives us many blessings but sometimes it’s difficult to remember how blessed we are or realize the many wonderful things we have in our lives. There are times when we get angry and do things that we aren’t supposed to or which are unkind. When we act this way, or forget our blessings, we get a little further from how God would want us to live. The time of Lent (the 40 days) then is about focusing on how we could be a better person and turning our hearts back to God. There are three ways this is normally done and that is prayer, fasting (giving something up) or giving to others.
1) Prayer– By including more prayer in your life, it allows you to open up and talk to God. God is there not just for special occasions but every minute of every day. When you only pray ever once and awhile, it may feel strange or you might feel shy because it feels like you are talking to someone you don’t know. But the more you talk to and pray to God, the easier it becomes. By focusing on prayer during these 40 days, you get a chance to catch up with God (if you haven’t been praying as much) or maybe start a new friendship with him.
2) Giving Something Up– When you give something up (fast from something), like dessert or screen time, it can be hard- but it’s meant to be. You may miss it or really want it back, but feeling that way only happens for a very short period of the year. When you feel like you really miss the thing you gave up, you start to realize how lucky you are to be able to have that dessert or screen time. Then when you get it back after the 40 days, it helps you realize how lucky you are to have this blessing at all.
3) Give to Others– The third thing you can do is to give to others. This could be as simple as sharing a toy with your brother or sister. Or maybe doing something nice for someone else. This is about working a little harder in our lives to give or to help out other people. It could be putting coins together for a poor box, bringing food to a food bank or just being kind to someone when they are otherwise making you mad. When we act like this, we follow more closely with how God wants us to be and it helps bring us nearer to him.